[MARMAM] New paper on killer whale refugium off japan during Last Glacial Maximum suggested by genetic and cultural evidence

Erich Hoyt erich.hoyt at mac.com
Fri Jul 7 07:42:45 PDT 2023

Dear Colleagues,

We are pleased to announce our publication in Marine Mammal Science, available as open access: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/mms.13046

Filatova OA, Fedutin ID, Borisova EA, Meschersky IG, Hoyt E 2023. Genetic and cultural evidence suggests a refugium for killer whales off Japan during the Last Glacial Maximum. Marine Mammal Science, 11pp DOI: 10.1111/mms.13046

During glacial periods, highly mobile species were able to shift their ranges to warmer regions that remained ice-free—so-called “glacial refugia.” Glacial refugia often preserved higher levels of genetic diversity than areas that were colonized after the retreat of glaciers. In this study, we examined genetic and vocal variation in R-type (“resident”) killer whales, Orcinus orca, from Nemuro Strait in the western North Pacific to test the hypothesis that environmentally stable marine regions may have preserved refugial populations of the killer whale that retained historical genetic and cultural diversity. We found three distinct mtDNA control region haplotypes and stereotyped calls that differed significantly from the repertoire of a population further north off Kamchatka and the adjacent western North Pacific. Therefore, both genetic and cultural evidence suggest that at least some killer whales from Nemuro Strait represent a separate maternal lineage. The control region haplotype diversity for Nemuro Strait is comparable to that for the rest of the North Pacific. The data presented here are consistent with the existence of the southwestern glacial refugium for killer whales in the waters off northern Japan during the Last Glacial Maximum.

Thank you and best regards,

Erich Hoyt

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Research Fellow, WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation
Co-chair, IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force

Park House, Allington Park
Bridport, Dorset DT6 5DD
United Kingdom
Email: erich.hoyt at mac.com
Web: erichhoyt.com

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